“Only three days left!”

So, I was going to go on about this in the review of Swipe This, but thought best to leave the review to itself and break away into this post to talk about the way “only three days” is having an impact upon the products, creative products, that are being offered on Internet.

“Only Pete”: Pete’s blog

Here’s the scenario. A guy has a blog, let’s call him Pete and let’s call his blog “Only Pete”. Pete’s blog is mostly about how to make money on the Internet, mostly through creating online tutorials. He got his start, say, five years ago, doing podcasts in which he interviewed other Internet personalities (many of whom you’ve probably not ever heard about unless you’re in the “make millions on Internet” loop).

He wasn’t making all that much money from the actual podcasts posted on his blog, so he decided to make a pay-for tutorial on how to make interview podcasts. According to Pete, he sold a lot of subscriptions to that tutorial and made a lot of money from them. Cheers, Pete.

Circular video: Pete’s offer

Now, the three-course meal he offered anyone subscribed to his blog was a three-part video tutorial on how to get started making video tutorials. Yes, it does go around in a complete circle (which is probably better than a pyramid, but well), a video course on how to make video courses.

As is the present-day practice for such offers, the course was free, but for a very limited time. In addition, the parts were meted out one day at a time over several days and after about a week, then were taken down (not without letting us know that they were going to soon be taken down!).

Not a course: Pete’s introduction

Naturally, this free course was the introduction to a longer, pay-for course that Pete was offering that promised to delve into the nitty-gritty of making a video course. That’s also par for the course,

  • give ’em something for free
  • get them to sign up
  • get them on your email list
  • sell them the course that is going to change their life

Perhaps it works, there are dozens of people selling the same stuff all over, there must be a market for this kind of stuff.

“Only three days”: Pete’s threat

I’m not going into the sales stuff, though, rather the speed that is implied. You have three days to look at the free course, then it will be taken away. You have three more days to sign up for the paid course, then admission will be closed (until the next, repeat launch). You have to do this now, not later, time is running out.

Haste makes waste: Pete’s quality

It is that “time is running out” that is affecting the actual material being offered. The three freebie videos were, on a scale of one to ten, more or less threes. Each video lasted around half-an-hour. Each video was basically Pete sitting at a table in a pleasant room in a pleasant house with a pleasant bookshelf behind him (and some electronic equipment over his right shoulder in the back). On the table was a nice, newish-looking Apple computer and a huge microphone on a table boom. Pete sits there with this big smile on his face and, in a more or less natural presentation, goes through whatever is rolling on the tele-prompter, appropriately straying occasionally to keep the style friendly and conversational.

There are two basic shots of Pete, one from the side and one head-on. There are screen shots of an orangy textured parchment background with main points texted in, sometimes with photos, not too different from a basic PowerPoint presentation. The sound is okay (ought to be, that mic is big enough!), the lighting adequate, they guy is attractive to look at and doesn’t move his hands around too much. He could do some voice study to lessen the twang, but his delivery is acceptable. Nothing particularly special.

Time spent is obvious

What amazed me upon seeing the videos, though, was that he had mentioned that it had taken him quite a bit of time to put them together. Now, I can’t imagine where all that time was spent. The three were obviously filmed all the same day (the coffee mug does not change position from Vid one to Vid three), the text itself was a great deal of repetitive self-promotion, and he admits in the comments that there was only one camera and mic and that the material was edited by a professional video editor (who didn’t have all that much work to do). And, despite all of the work put into the videos, according to Pete himself, they were just long and repetitive.

I actually suspect that he whipped out a script based upon previous writings of his own, following a template he always uses for this type of video, sat down at the table with the camera focused on him, read the prompter (adding those improvised parts for realism), spent some time making the PowerPoint slideshow to be inserted appropriately and sent the files to his editor by email. The most time-consuming part was probably waiting for each of the 30-minute HD videos to render (even Apple hasn’t overcome the render wait, though they do a pretty good job, so I’ve heard).

Despite the professional quality of the final product demonstrated, the entire thing looked slapped together to get it online. Hurry, hurry. And that’s some dangerous advice I’ve been seeing lately. These guru types are actually encouraging people to get their stuff up as soon as possible, much better to have something available despite sloppy presentation (which, again, was not the case in this example, not at all sloppy, Pete is experienced), than spend time producing a flawless product and getting it available in due time. This shows.

Despite being experienced and having some kick-ass equipment and even someone to do the drudge work of editing, Pete’s course lacked some basics for me. There was no identification, no logo, no brand presentation at the beginning. Even the most of the cheesiest “Top ten” cat videos will have some kind of opening credit to let you know who made the piece. The endings were even creepier, instead of a nice fade-to-black, maybe with a “subscribe” button, the image simply froze, with Pete smiling into the camera with his perfect teeth and slightly glassy eyes.

The slides were cheap and simple. I don’t mind that so much, way too much FX in a lot of stuff we see nowadays on the web. However, that cheap, simple aspect made me think that it had taken him all of twenty minutes to whip them up and even animate them. Any free video production program that comes with your new laptop will have that feature. Again, the entire thing looked like it had been produced in just about 24 hours.

So, my question is, what’s the hurry? I’ll get to that in another post.

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